A raw, unrepentant gut-kick in the stomach of hypocritical social standards and expectations of both police officers and criminals, COP KILLERS is both an indictment and sick celebration of the ruthless, blood-frenzied urge that makes its all-too-believable characters attack the falsely imposed, idiotically championed safety screen of conservative society; at the same time this mean mother of exploitation cinema is a carnal bruise against the often brainless and ball-less mentality of the contemporary Western crime films. Subverting audience expectations and the false dictates of forced sanitization enforced upon movies by cooperate minds (for lack of a better word) and moral censors, COP KILLERS lays bare knuckles across the chin of the action genre, indulging in hard punches, graphic mayhem, and harder cultural truths. Little less than a blazing, bleeding, bullying piece of emotional terrorism, this story of a pair of mad killers indulging in a spree of murder, theft, and torture is forces us to focus on actions and motivations we'd rather forget, emphasizing on both bullet-riddled surface action and surprisingly disturbing, thoughtful subtext for those unwilling to stare past the smoking guns and guts.

Shocking its harsh reality, COP KILLERS electrifies an already risky, taboo-inducing subject -- killing cops -- with a just as brutal honesty of approach, wading contentedly in graphic, truthfully captured violence that examines the motivations, pain, terror, and emotional effects of physical carnage and death if not precisely glorifying it. In a story as simplistic as it is exploitative, two police officers find themselves in the midst of a botched drug deal between a couple of low-lives (similar to the types of greasy fellows running around in Umberto Lenzi Italian Crime films). After making short thrift of the cops, killing them in cold blood, the hippies than indulge on a murder spree of malicious mayhem and mockery. This is a quest movie without the purpose or mythological associations; in fact, it is the apparent lack of clear motive or ambition that makes their senseless carnage so very horrible to think about and witness. Evoking horror, repulsion, suspense, and anger, this is easily as much a horror movie as it is a crime film, action exploitation, or asphalt tragedy. One thing it isn't is boring, as the direction is sound and inventive, making the camera an active if objective participant in the story, and the acting, particularly in the case of the two criminals, is authentically gruff, sadistic, and believably senseless -- their ability to convincingly mimic the moral ambiguity and senselessness of real everyday murderers somehow gratifies (in an admittedly sick way) even as it repels, allowing its audience to engage in no easy moral decisions or judgments -- of either the movie or their own reactions. While the lovingly depicted violence isn't glorified or made into a beautiful ballet as is often the case in such genres as the Gialli or Slasher film, it is undoubtedly one of the central characters. Lens and narrative would be lost without it, just as our sense of fair play and justice is lost in the face of such brutality and malicious glee as the killers embark on their blood-soaked journey of rage.

More concerned with presenting its audience a powerhouse story than preaching, a disturbing throb of ambiguity charges this ode to viciousness, daring us to neither sympathize or condemn but, like nature, to simply watch explosive action scenes disturb and titillate in equal fashion. Owing something to the atmospheric tension of Noir, the stylistic direction, photography, and location choices lend both a physical and emotional resonance of early small budget crime mentality to the picture, capturing the gritty urban environment while simultaneously evoking an undercurrent of tension. Where this decidedly reflective, bold presentation breaks company with the majority of insipid, self-satisfied fluff of American television or cinema is in its unflinching honesty of not only subject and characterizations -- psychologically unsound outsiders engaging in excessive violence and cruelty against a society and life that never gave them anything other than pain -- but, in addition, and perhaps more importantly, a refreshing if purposefully demoralizing and naturalistic approach to violence. Surprisingly similar in theme and tone (if not story) to such harsh, emotionally realistic, and savage exploitation gut-churners as The Hills Have Eyes, House By The Edge Of The Park, Candy Snatchers, and Hitch-Hike, this horrible hybrid of sleaze, crime, and emotional terror hacks, beats, and shoots its way towards a unique personality all its own.

Whereas most mainstream cinema panders primarily to a market based on governmental propaganda insisting entertainment reflects the illusion of a strictly defined moral position based on appearances rather than fact, this cultural hand-grenade blows open the outdated dependence on clearly defined characterization or moral parameters. All meat, no gristle, the director uses his camera like a weapon, bringing it down quick and hard on unpleasant truths about a society at war with itself under the guise of law and order. Ambiguity is maintained throughout, heightening emotional and intellectual involvement.

Helmed in the mid 70's, perhaps the greatest decade the exploitation genre has ever seen (or ever will), a relentless energy, excessive if rough-hewed style, and liberal, no-holds barred attitude trucks the threadbare anti-story along, focusing more often on blood squibs, violence, and adrenaline than subtleties of character or introspection. Than again, it never pretends to be that kind of movie. Everything from its boldly honest title to its rough production values and characterization suggests its attack mentality as the movie races to a mean-spirited conclusion. Safely tucked within the era when Hooper greased up his chainsaw, Hess fondled flesh, and both writers and producers had a backbone as well as the ability to contribute something to the art form rather than another remake, COP KILLERS is a powerful if not a fun movie. Nor would we want it to be.

Shriek Show offers this rabid piece of perversity in a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer, which cleans up and refreshes the image quality without obliterating the low-budget intensity or rough-look of the original photography. While there is a disappointing amount of dirt, this id the fault, I expect, of the original negative, not the efforts of Media Blasters. Audio for the picture is in mono, which is perfectly serviceable.

Extras are surprisingly robust for such an odd, under appreciated film, including "Confessions of a Cop Killer," a shot-on-video interview with Jason Williams, who discusses his early career struggles, his part in in the infamous FLESH GORDON, and , more importantly, his experiences in COP KILLERS. Williams continues to entertain and illuminate in the commentary, which is moderated by Adam Trash. This commentary is a wealth of detail, including memories of acting and the shoot as well as more fun trivia for the fan boys in us, such as how horny waitresses were quick to disrobe and the joys of donning prosthetics. The following photo gallery is less impressive -- rather a joke -- revealing only a few shots -- while the trailer is appropriately exploitative, setting the mood for the ensuing carnage. The expected and always fun Shriek Show trailers complete the package.

How refreshing in this age of fresh faced 16 year old thespians to see the roughed up, believable, anything but pretty cast in this grind house delight. Likewise, the attitude is refreshingly angry, giving you the finger and calling your momma bad names as its groovy gory goodness unrolls. One wishes that the gang had picked up some studio executives with the whining driver in the ice cream truck that they lift (yup, you heard right), and tortured them together. The hippy hangout where these wastes hang out feels more than a little familiar, its lingo and counter-culture atmosphere burrowing from such biker bonanzas as Easy Rider and Werewolves on Wheels. Supposedly sporting makeup by macabre master Rick Baker, this artless but enthusiastic exercise in brutality, 'pig' haters, and degeneracy is a heaping helping of classic if forgotten exploitation heaven.

Review by William P Simmons

Released by Shreik Show
Region All - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review